Our Magic Bishops
In a blog post on U.S. Catholic, Scott Alessi contrasts statements on poverty from the Archdiocese of New York and the bishops of New Jersey with the lack of such from the USCCB at last week's general assembly:
Had the entire body of America's bishops made a similar statement last week, it would have called national attention to the serious moral concerns that surround the country's economic troubles.
And I have to ask: Would it?
Is there anyone currently unaware of the serious moral concerns that surround the country's economic troubles who would become aware of them through a statement made by the USCCB at its fall general assembly?
Even if such people exist, I don't think the USCCB should pitch its semiannual agenda at a handful of oddballs.
More generally, I don't think episcopal statements -- at the diocesan, state, or national level -- magically make their way into general cultural consciousness to effect public policy. Scott Alessi would no doubt object strenuously to that "magically," but by what other process would episcopal statements work? The U.S. Catholic blog is itself full of bitching at bishops who don't do or say what the bloggers want them to (the post I quoted from being an example of the "more in sorrow than anger" type). Where comes the power of the bishops' words when they happen to align with the opinions of bloggers for U.S. Catholic?